Our first attempt to go to Suzhou Amusement Land ended very quickly. We went from the second stop on the metro (our street) to the third from the end of the line only to exit the metro to pouring rain. Still, since we were pretty excited after seeing the entry gate, we tried to buy tickets under our umbrellas. Clearly we should have realized that the big red Chinese characters meant that the park had been closed early but you never really know here in China.
Attempt number two went much more smoothly…except for the beginning, which I was not a fan of at all. On the short walk from the metro escalator to the park entrance, a few street vendors/entertainers roam. Some offer to take your picture for a price, some try to use their very weak children to sell you light up swords or flowers, and some THROW THEIR MONKEY AT YOU FOR MONEY. I saw it only for a split second before Michelle was leaving me behind and suddenly there was a leashed monkey attached to my leg. His owner was saying, “Money (English). Money(Chinese),” and holding out his little cup. So here I was trying to get this animal off my leg and when I finally succeeded he threw it right back there. This monkey wasn’t Abu from Aladdin either. Basically I felt that it was satin himself clinging to my leg. Clearly it was trained to hug my leg as long it could, rodeo style in this case. I freaked out a little while I was probably strangling the monkey to death by pulling on its leash and telling the guy to get lost. Michelle was at least five steps above me moving quickly further away, not even looking at me. All the while I never stopped walking so from afar it probably looked like when little kids cling on to their parents leg because it’s fun/funny. Except the big different here was that it wasn’t a tiny kid that you like. It was some demon animal slave that I needed off of me. Finally I was able to punt the little guy off me for a third time and the guy got the point that I wasn’t going to give him any surrender cash.
I survived the attack/entertainment, we got our tickets, and we entered the park. We didn’t exactly know where to go at first but after a quick spin around we decided to take the path left, which coincidentally happened to be American/British street…home sweet home. We took the stroll down the street and headed to the haunted house. Michelle told me that she “might die," as many things could kill her easily which I have learned, if we went in. Later she did work up the confidence to go in but we found that they were charging a few extra RMB so we decided against it on principle alone. We made a bee-line for the next ride which happened to be a small rollercoaster. All seemed legit until for some reason they only sent one 4-person car at a time. We quickly figured out that the structure would crumble to the ground if they added any more weight. Was that steel holding the rollercoaster up or bamboo? We waited for our turn, had fun, and didn’t die.
|Just like the real America|
Next, we explored the amusement park without any direction whatsoever. While exploring, we found that everyone had maps but us. Of course the confused Americans don’t know what’s going on. Our exploration took us through pirate town, Venice, and old mining town. No one seemed to be in the Venice part which was a little weird even though the park wasn’t completely crowded since it is winter. We just figured it was another China thing we didn’t understand.
|Just a regular bear with a tie that happens to be named Yogi.|
|Lance Armstrong 3000 IN SPACE.|
Back to exploring the park mapless which allowed us to marvel at the Chinese fashion that usually always involves a ton of fur and things shaped like cute animals (hats, gloves, backpacks, etc). More often than not the cute animal is a kitten or panda (see previous blog for panda hat). We also saw how China does cotton candy in theme parks and boy do they do it wrong. This time their wrong is a lot better than being right! Children and adults have cotton candy sticks that measure over 2, sometimes 2.5 feet. It’s quite a ridiculous sight to see people eat cotton candy that towers over their head. Later we tried the popcorn and of course, like everything in Suzhou it was sweet instead of salty; so basically it tasted like kettle corn. Michelle enjoyed it either way.
|Universal's got nothing on this|
The next few rides included a copy of the jungle ride in Disney World WITH GUNS and a copy off of It’s a Small World from Disney World too. The jungle ride was pretty sweet since you got to shoot jungle animals, control the direction of your car, and receive a score at the end. You know my newfound hate for monkeys put our car’s score at the top with 22, which seemed to be almost double any other car. I made sure to mess up the monkey real bad when we passed by. Too bad there wasn’t a plastic monkey trainer to shoot at. It’s a Small World: China edition was pretty funny to us. There were the typical small creepy people that are supposed to represent cultures around the world but China decided to add rats, pandas, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles along with many more animal people. To make things more exciting the people in our boat were standing up during a portion so that they could get a scenic photo while inside the ride. When we exited the worker was extremely proud to drop a “Bye Bye” at us, proving her English skills were top notch.
|China wanted to cover all nationalities|
After covering the entire park, acquiring a map by using made up sign language to a police officer (Michelle drew an imaginary square while I acted out opening a book/map), and taking the train that, for some reason, only has one stop and goes in a circle around the park, we decided to take the cable car up the small mountain/hill (think upgraded Mt. Holly with ledges and rocks). This was probably the best part of the whole park and for some lucky guests who got to waive at us through the glass windows of the car due to our celebrity status. The trails on top of the mountain were pretty cool especially since, in typical China NO RULES style, you were free to climb or hang off any edge you felt like hanging off of. Michelle and I spent a good amount of time walking up the stairs that were carved into the rock. Since they were carved in these steps were not your normal steps. Some were really tiny while others you had to climb up to make it.
|Chains on the least dangerous parts of the path|
|The climb about halfway down|
Once we reached the top and received yet another proud “Hello” from the bros hanging out on Pride Rock, we didn’t feel like taking the cable car back down, so we hiked down the rough ‘stairs’ instead. While following Michelle’s slow, baby steps down we found an abandoned path so we ducked under the bushes that grew over it and traveled up to the small peak. The backpack I had on got stuck so it took me an extra minute to meet up with Michelle who easily fits through small spaces. After snapping a few more pics we winded down the path by a group of people who were about 1/3 of the way up and already completely out of breath.
|The earmuffs are for balance on dangerous climbs|
Lastly, we visited the amusement park’s versions of Greece, Egypt, Pirate World, and an arcade that had a pretty cool game where you kick a soccer ball at a net and try to hit the top corners for more points. Each were pretty cool sights. A man and woman pushing their strollers up a heavy incline and local tourists taking photos while they stood in the water of the fountain were my personal favorite moments.
|Fountains in China: Newly Est 2013|
|Good they they installed stroller ramps!|
The park was a lot of fun. It was probably a bit overpriced by Suzhou standards but overall it was definitely worth it. Theme park wise our next visits may include Dinosaur Land, Happy Valley, and fake Universal Studios which seems to be partly themed after Star/Warcraft…We exited the park happily but then I remembered that we were not safe….I saw the path to the metro station and it wasn’t a clear path at all. THREE STREET ENTERTAINERS AND THREE MONKEYS ROAMING FOR VICTIMS! Usually it is Michelle who says that she will die in situations but I don’t think I could have taken another monkey incident, let alone 3X the monkey. So, we started on our way. I was trying to keep it cool. Michelle wasn’t fazed at all for some reason. She literally said that she wouldn’t even think twice and “stomp it to death” with her new boots (see old blog) if it touched her. I’m usually the calm one but all I could think about was how I was going to have to use my backpack as some type of weapon to fend them off ….Well, anyway they didn’t approach us but they did go up to other couple. I noticed that this couple did not have the monkey thrown at them but instead the man held it on his arm next to them and let it dance or something. That would have been much better. Maybe he figured that under-handing a live animal at someone is not a way to do business.